I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Deep by Alma Katsu
Published by Transworld Books on March 10, 2020
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world's most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.
Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. Between mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, the guests of the Titanic have found themselves suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone from the moment they set sail. Several of them, including maid Annie Hebley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, are convinced there's something sinister--almost otherwordly--afoot. But before they can locate the source of the danger, as the world knows, disaster strikes.
Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together. Working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship, she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier fighting in World War I. At first, Annie is thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the sinking, but soon, Mark's presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past--as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.
Brilliantly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.
The Deep is the story of The Titanic re-imagined. The idea that something more sinister was at play during the time of The Titanic’s sinking really intrigued me. However, this was something completely different from what I was expecting. The horror aspect of the story wasn’t what I personally was looking for. I wanted more atmosphere, I just wanted it to be so much more. I’m terribly fascinated by the events that took place during the sinking, we all think we know what happened but what if it was completely different – this idea was what drew me into picking this one up.
You can tell that the author was very detailed and dedicated to the research needed to write a story of this magnitude. You’ve got to commend Katsu’s attention to detail. However, the book moved too slowly to keep my attention in the short term. I took over a week to finish this one which was a huge disappointment for me. I wanted to fall head over heels in love with it. The story is a tale of two halves – flashbacks to the protagonist’s time on HMHS Titanic and later HMHS Britannica, the two sister ships who weirdly both became a watery grave.
We meet Annie Hebbley who has spent a great deal of time in a mental institution after the sinking of the Titanic. As you can imagine it would have been a terribly traumatic event and I don’t doubt for one moment that it would have changed her. Annie however, felt unnaturally disjointed and borderline hysterical. Her obsession with a certain individual was strange and too forced it didn’t fit with the type of character she has been portrayed with previously.
I did enjoy the dual timelines. The revealing of incidents gave great insight to the events that led up to the sinking. It gave more tension and felt more real than just a flashback happening. I did get the impression that Annie was more damaged and untrustworthy than the story would have us believe. Could you really trust her thoughts and feelings? Something just didn’t add up. It’s no lie that I love the unreliable narrator trope and although this was one of the better aspects of The Deep it wasn’t captured as flawlessly as I had hoped it could have been.
The Deep had so much potential and although I enjoyed the majority of it the ending felt so incredibly rushed and like a bolt out of the blue it more or less ruined the work that the author had done into producing a mysterious tale of trauma, friendship and pain.
ABOUT ALMA KATSU
Alma Katsu writes novels that combine history and horror. Her latest are The Deep, a reimagining of the sinking of the Titanic, and The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist. The Hunger made NPR’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Observer, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel. It recently won Spain’s Kelvin 505 award for Best Novel (translated) and was also won the Western Heritage Award for Best Novel.
The Taker, her debut novel, has been compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining historical, the supernatural, and fantasy into one story. The Taker was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes The Reckoning and The Descent.
Ms. Katsu lives outside of Washington DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. In addition to her novels, she has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Program and Brandeis University, where she studied with novelist John Irving. She also is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.
Prior to publication of her first novel, Ms. Katsu had a long career in intelligence, working for several US agencies and a think tank. She currently is a consultant on emerging technologies. Additional information can be found on Wikipedia and in this interview with Ozy.com.
(Photo credit: Patrick Milliken)